Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Savage Worlds Flash Gordon Kickstarter

    Posted By on February 14, 2019

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for Flash Gordon.  I love the old serials (three of them), the old comics, and I can even tolerate that campy 1970s movie.  So, when the Savage Worlds Flash Gordon Kickstarter occurred, I jumped on the bandwagon to get the figures.   I have just about every other manufacturer’s Flash Gordon figures, but you can never had too many Flash Gordon figures — at least that’s what I tell my wife.

    Since I have been home this week (first of several), I have been getting some painting done in the evenings.  Last night I finished the Flash Gordon figures from the Kickstarter.

    Princess Aura and Ming the Merciless.

    I painted these figures in comic book colors.  The figures have nice animation and styling that is consistent with the Alex Raymon drawings.

    Ming’s soldiers.

    The space ship in the background was made from a Denny’s happy meal sip cup.

    Dale Arden, Flash Gordon, and Dr. Zarkov.  I love the animation of the Dale Arden figure with the rifle.

    All of the figures were fun and easy to paint.

    Prince Thun of the Lion Men, Prince Barin of Arborio, and Prince Voltan of the Hawkmen.  I’m not overly happy with how the wings turned out on Voltan.

    And for some reason when I pulled these figures out of the to-be-painted box, I also pulled this Superman figure.  I don’t know where it came from or who was the manufacturer, but I painted it up anyway.  I don’t even play superhero games; although, To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT has rules for Pulp-era superheroes.  Does anyone know who made this figure?


    The Last of the Mantic Terrain Crate Pieces

    Posted By on February 12, 2019

    The abandoned mine sets from Mantic terrain crates.

    I have been posting pictures from time to time of the various terrain pieces that I got in the Mantic terrain crate Kickstarter.  Tonight I finished the last of the two crates and various add-ons that I purchased.

    I finished two sets of the abandoned mine.  I will use these in an upcoming game I’ll be running at Cold Wars in a few weeks.

    Mission complete.

    Two Martian Tripods

    Posted By on February 10, 2019

    In the continuing effort to reduce the unpainted lead collection, I knocked out these two tripods this weekend.  I went with battleship gray for the paint scheme thinking that they might be Earth imitations of Martian tripods (I have the ones from here to be real Martians).  They looked too clean, so I gave them a heavy brown wash.

    I like the quirkiness of these. They look like water towers on legs to me.

    I bought these at Barrage 2017.  I may buy a third one at Barrage 2019 if they are available.  They were pretty easy to assemble, and they painted quickly.

    Science Fiction Scatter Terrain

    Posted By on February 10, 2019

    When I bought into the Mantic Terrain Crate Kickstarter, I was able to add some science fiction scenery bits to my pledge.  I only have a handful of terrain left paint from the two crates I bought.  This is almost the last tranche.

    Some items for the cargo hold.

    Some consoles and shelving.

    Some consoles and a weapons locker.

    These are all for 25/28mm science fiction figures.

    Interesting New Product from Gamers Grass

    Posted By on February 8, 2019

    The Battle Ready Bases product from Gamers Grass.

    I recently tried a new product, called Battle Ready Bases.  These are bases for wargaming figures that come pre painted, textured, etc.  They have different ones for different terrain types, from desert to these winter ones shown.

    A pack of bases includes ten pre-textured, pre-flocked bases with tufts on them.  I bought three packs, and each base was slightly different.  At $20 a pack, or $2 a base for Greg, they aren’t cheap, but the time it would take me to do these myself makes $20 worth it.  And I wouldn’t do nearly as good a job or take the time to apply this much detail.

    I wouldn’t base 1000 figures this way, but for skirmish games, I think these are a good value.  Since they are complete, you need to stick figures to them that have no bases, like slot-a-base figures with the tab removed or some of the plastic figures where the base is a separate piece.  I think a lot of the Warlord plastics come that way.

    Two Russian figures mounted on the bases.

    I based 19 figures last night.  Whatever they are made of or finished with, super glue sticks to them almost as well as my hands.  The figures seem to be securely attached without pinning.  I’m sure that I am as likely to break one of these brittle, plastic rifles as I am to knock the figures off their bases, and the figures are easily re-attached.

    Anyway, I very much recommend this product.  When the hobby funds build back up, I think I’ll try some of their other terrain types, like desert.


    Here Come the Sky Gods!

    Posted By on February 7, 2019

    I have been thinking about getting some of my VSF figures on the table again one of these days.  I have been focused on WWII mostly since the release of Combat Patrol(TM).   Over a year ago at Barrage 2017, I bought these two kits.  I finally got around to putting them together, because I was looking for something I could do quickly.  Work has been crazy busy lately.

    They might also work for some back of beyond type pulp games.

    They are pretty sturdy little kits.  I made a base for them and use clear acrylic rod to make the flight stands.

    Phone Home and Eat Cats

    Posted By on February 5, 2019

    I recently posted to TMP that I was looking for a figure of Alf, from the 80’s televisions how.  Someone sent me to this page.  I found Alf, Were-Alf, and Dracula-Alf.  They painted up quickly, and I wanted to share.

    Three Alf figures from https://l72smetalminiaturesmusings.wordpress.com/?s=alf

    While at the site, I also noticed that he is making an E.T. figure.  I got two and painted one with his finger and heart light glowing and one without.

    E.T. figures from https://l72smetalminiaturesmusings.wordpress.com/?s=alf

    Painting these figures inspired me to re-watch E.T. this weekend with my daughter.  It has been so long since we watched it, that she didn’t remember much.

    Look for these to show up in a game in time for Historicon 2019.

    Magnum P.I.

    Posted By on January 26, 2019

    Magnum, TC, and the Ferrari.

    I have been looking for a 1:48 scale Ferrari like the one in Magnum P.I. — the original series not the remade crap.  I found this one on eBay after years of searching.  It is 1:43, but close enough.  Then I needed a Magnum, T.C., and Rick.  I went to Crooked Dice to find a figure I could make into Thomas Magnum.

    Crooked Nice men from the future.

    I started with the figure on the left.  I figured mostly it would be paint conversion, but I had to add a collar to make a Hawaiian shirt.

    Flamboyant Agent Heads

    I started with the head on the right, but in person, it didn’t have enough hair.  (I have been watching old episodes of the show, so I know that Magnum has a lot of 80’s hair.)  With some green stuff, I added a little more hair and made the mustache a little bushier, which you can see in the top picture of this post.

    Another view of Magnum and T.C.

    I had a hand holding a .45 M-1911 from a box of Warlord U.S. Marines.  I hacked the right hand out of figure and added the hand holding the .45.  You can’t see it in these pictures, but T.C.’s shirt says “Island Hoppers.”   I figure just about any figure will pass as Rick, and I’m sure I have a suitable Higgins figure.

    The Magnum faction will be added to the A-Team, Ghostbusters, and Scooby Doo factions in an upcoming wild and wooly To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT game, hopefully in time for Historicon 2019.

    Sarissa Precision Peel Tower

    Posted By on January 25, 2019

    I started to build this peel tower for my border rievers games.  This was a nice kit.  I did a bunch of the painting before assembly, which was the right answer, but I think I could do a much better job if I was to build a second one.

    Sarissa Precision peel tower.

    All the doors open with tape hinges.

    Another view.

    A third view.

    Bottom floor.

    The next floor.

    Third floor (in U.S.) or second floor (in the U.K.)

    Top floor

    I can’t wait to get this on the table!

    This is my submission to the February painting challenge on Azazel’s Bit Box:  https://azazelx.com/2019/01/23/neglected-models-february-2019-community-painting-challenge/


    Combat Patrol(TM) Commandos

    Posted By on January 19, 2019

    Early in the game, commandos run into a German patrol.

    Last night at our club night, Greg and I ran a commando game using Combat Patrol(TM).  We are trying to work up rules for sentries and commandos to put into a free supplement.  For purposes of this supplement, the attacker is referred to as “commando” regardless of nationality.  Bottom line: it worked okay for a first run, but we have some work to do.

    The Commandos spotted a roving patrol and the sentries by the guard shack.

    This scenario involved British Commandos (Guts: E, Accuracy: E, Melee: 2, Endurance: 3, Reaction: 4) attacking a chateau in France to kill or capture a high-ranking officer.  The Germans (Guts: R, Accuracy: R, Melee: 1, Endurance: 3, Reaction: 3) had two teams (5 figures each) that were in fixed positions, three on roving patrols, and two pairs of sentries in fixed positions.  The Commandos were in six, two-figure teams.  This gave them maximum flexibility, but also made it difficult, when the fur began to fly, to mass fires.  The Commandos also had three “Where’s my card?” counters that they could play if the reshuffle card came up before either card of a given number was drawn from the Activation Deck.  Greg played the Germans and worked off of a small board, so the game was “double blind.”

    I let the Commandos enter anywhere they wanted on one of the short table edges.  They had to kill or capture the high-ranking officer and exit off the other short table edge.  The table was roughly five feet by three feet.  I used the spotting rules and night rules from the FREE optional rules supplement.

    There German patrol spotted some movement they thought were the enemy in the woods. Because the alert level didn’t allow the Germans to shoot, they moved forward to enter into hand-to-hand combat. The Commandos easily dispatched the first two Germans, but the alert level was raised. The two Commandos activated next, dashed out into the open to engage the rest of the patrol, killing two more. The alert level was raised further, but it still wasn’t high enough to allow the Germans to shoot. The last member of the patrol was killed in hand-to-hand combat as well. At this point, the Commandos had killed one of five German teams, and I was worried the game was going to be lopsided.

    The driving mechanic of the Commando games is the notion of an alert level (AL), which started and 1 and could go up or down based on different events.  The table was divided into a 3×5 grid.  When the AL reaches certain thresholds, the Germans are allowed to take different actions.  For instance, when the AL reached 5, the sentries were allowed to be more active.  At 10, the fixed German units were released to move toward “sounds.”  At 15, the Germans could begin for fire.  At 20, the German reinforcements would arrive.  On the drive home, I also thought that at 30, the Germans could kill the prisoner.  These thresholds are set before the game, but they can be different from game to game.

    If Commandos and Germans were in adjacent zones, the AL increased by 1.  If they were in the same zone, the AL increased by 2.  Until the AL reached 10, the Commandos used a modification to the normal melee procedure.  The Commandos couldn’t apply the HtH modifier for their weapon unless they decided to fire during the melee, which would increase the AL.  If the Commandos lost a hand-to-hand, the German player drew a card from the Action Deck to determine if the Commando was wounded or incapacitated like normal.  In either case, the AL increased by 1.  If the Commando won the melee, he too drew card from the Action Deck to determine the result.  If the German was incapacitated, the AL remained the same.  If the German was wounded, he was incapacitated anyway, but the AL increased by 1.  Also, if the hand-to-hand occurred within sight of another German who wasn’t incapacitated during the same activation, the AL increased by 1.  The first three times that small arms fire occurred, regardless of who fired, the AL increased by 2.  In subsequent activations, if the Commandos fired their weapons, the AL increased by 1.

    Two Commandos got across the open, spotted the Germans in the chateau, and ducked for cover in the small courtyard. Unfortunately, by that time the AL was high enough that one of the patrols began moving toward the activity and spotted the Commands. The German patrol activated before the Commandos could melt back into the darkness, and the Germans wiped out the pair.

    To encourage the Commandos to exercise some stealth, on turns in which none of the Commandos were spotted, the AL decreased by 1.  There was a point after the first German patrol was killed that the Commandos might have concealed themselves back into the woods, but they unluckily ran into a patch of woods occupied by a fixed German unit.  So, instead of decreasing the AL, a melee occurred, which eventually drove the AL to a level that allowed the Germans to begin shooting.  After this point, the German combat power continued to increase as more and more units arrived and more shooting occurred.  Eventually, the AL got high enough that a nearby Pz. 38(t)  arrived on the scene.

    Another German patrol heads to the sound of the guns.

    A high point for the Commandos came when the 38(t) moved into the courtyard of the chateau.  One of Duncan’s Commandos was caught in the open.  This is the one we dubbed “Mac the Knife” from all the Germans he had incapacitated in hand-to-hand combat.   All of the Commandos was equipped with a satchel charge.  Mac the Knife assaulted the tank, got a penetrating hit, and brewed up the tank.  This of course increased the alert level, but was a major morale boost for the Commando players who were watching their forces get attritted.  The smoke from the burning tank also provided some concealment for the Commandos from the Germans in the upper rooms of the chateau.

    Mac the Knife takes out the German tank with a satchel charge.

    We played a few more turns, but the Commandos just didn’t have enough men left to even get to the high-ranking officer.  The Germans began the game with 30 figure and ended with 10.  The Commands began the game with 12 figures and ended with 2.  This was a first play test of a scenario that has so much randomness that it is probably impossible to completely balance, but this particular instance hinged on the Commandos unluckily running into the German patrol early on turn 2.  I the patrol had moved in the opposite direction, if the Commandos had chosen a different entry point, if the Germans had failed to spot, the Commandos might have slipped past, and the game might have been lopsided in their favor.  The AL mechanic seems to work.  The Commands had a good time, despite being defeated.

    While Commands were dying in France, Zeb Cook was running a Finland Winter War 1939 game on the other table.  Below are some pictures.  From the whooping and hollering, the game seemed to be a lot of fun, and I really like the look of his table.